Dublin Bound!

Dublin Bound!
Dublin Bound!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Everything's Quiet in Cootehill

Today was a good day to explore Cootehill. We started with a full night's sleep and a jaunty spirit.

It was pouring rain when we went to see Kilborn Cathedral.  We  had a good time exploring the Church.   It was a beautiful Country church.  The church was simular in many ways to the Cathedral in Helena.  Lots of marble, stained glass, interesting statues and a nice place to hang out.

By the time we got out of the church it had stopped raining and the sun was shining.  We decided to continue our exploration of Cootehill.  This is a pretty sizable endeavor. 

Cootehill is a fine example of an 18th century Ulster linen market town.  Cootehill takes its name from the Coote family who acquired a large estate after the Cromwellian wars.  The land had previously belonged to the O'Reilly clan. Cootehill developed from a small village dating from the late 17th century.  Thomas Coote was a founding member of the Linen Board in Dublin and played a major role in encouraging the linen trade in Cootehill.   The linen market grew rapidly throughout the 18th century.  And by 1801 had become the sixth largest market for brown linen in Ulster.  

Ok, back here now after a few commercial words from the "old coote." : ) The reason we are here is that Dad's grandmother was born here in Cootehill before emigrating to America at 11. As the youngest, she was orphaned at 2 when her family left her to go to Washington DC. She lived the next 9 years in an orphanage, which is long gone now. While walking along the railroad tracks one day, she found a substantial amount of money. She turned the money into the station master and he told her if no one claimed it, she could keep it. A month later, she was $100 richer and was able to emigrate to America in 1900 and find the rest of her family. Below is a picture of 3 generations of her descendants standing in the 'auld country.'

We thought we might find some of our descendents, so we stopped at a few of the cemeteries around here. They go back several generations. While we didn't find any Kennedy's or Flynn's, we did find one Smythe (Grandma's last name) and a Swan (Cassie's family name). 

Interesting times continue as we wandered the 3 streets in the thriving metropolis of Cootehill. The town didn't really wake up until after noon. As walked the sidewalks, we had no trouble finding open pubs, book makers and smoker's standing along the sidewalks. But anything interesting was closed on Mondays. As we walked Brendan started to get hungry. Just as he was saying that pizza sounded good, some foul odor came out of nowhere. All of a sudden food didn't sound so good after all.

We tried two different places to get a pizza only to learn that pizza is a food that is served in only two places here and not until after 5. And yet you can get a pint at 10am. Interesting... When we got back to the hotel, because really, it doesn't take that long to walk 3 streets, we went to check out the advertised spa with the massages, sauna and steamroom. And wouldn't you know, closed during the week. I'm beginning to think perhaps our timing is a bit off.  So when in Rome (or Ireland as it were)...

As we walked we were treated to a kaleidoscope of weather. Threatening clouds dumped a ton of rain, then it was sunny. Just as I put on my sun glasses, we were once again got caught in a deluge. The weather here is just like Seattle, although a bit quicker on the changeup.

We drove all over to get the feel of this small town in Ireland that seems to be quite unspoiled by tourists. Cassie has been our Irish countryside photographer - it's been hard to get my white knuckles off the steering wheel or to see much more than the road in front of me.

I've asked Dad to start saying "correct" instead of right because everytime he says right I think I'm in the wrong lane! The hardest thing about driving here is trying to figure out which way the traffic is coming from. Thankfully I'm getting a chance to learn in a pretty sleepy town. It's all hands on deck when it comes to driving. We've got someone handling the GPS, someone with a road map and one managing the air conditioning controls inthe car. Later we'll post a picture of all of us squashed into the car. I got the biggest car we could and it still feels like a Barney Rubble car when all of us and our stuff is squashed in.

The lanes are very small here and I always feels like I'm going to clip my left front bumper on something. Apparently so do my passengers. The cries of right, right, right! remind me that I might be a wee bit off course. I am reminded at every turn that I need to be in the left lane. Driving in Europe is a team sport! After driving on the roads in America, these cars, small as they are, seem very close. Cassie got this picture which is pretty indicative of the whole driving experience. White knuckled complete and total focus.


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